Kysre Gondrezick led the Michigan women’s basketball team into the 2016-2017 season on Friday — and she provided quite a start to her own career, too.
Junior guard Katelynn Flaherty, as in years past, claimed her stake as the top scorer for the Wolverines with 23 points. But it was Gondrezick who followed her with a total of 19 points on 5-for-8 3-point shooting in her debut Friday, a 101-63 rout of Oakland at Crisler Center.
“My coach told me, ‘I expect you to come in and score,’ ” Gondrezick said. “Accepting that challenge has made me grow so much as a player.
“I’ve been so humbled to come to a program where (my team) has been so selfless and has allowed me to, ultimately, be myself. They’re not being selfish and not allowing me to contribute and have an immediate impact. Being able to play with a great group of girls who continue to make me better, I’m definite excited about that for the next four years.”
Though Gondrezick didn’t play to this level in the Wolverines’ exhibition game against Wayne State — where they won, 93-41 — Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico is confident this is the player that Gondrezick truly is.
The Wolverines’ tight-knit pack played Oakland for its first regular-season game, and while the Golden Grizzlies featured eight new faces, they were no match for the Wolverines.
“We showed our ability to score, and we showed our depth,” Barnes Arico said. “I think that’s the strength of our team. If we can just continue to improve, we can run people out of (Crisler Center) with the amount of numbers we can sub in. We have to get better on the defensive end, but I think you really saw tonight how many different scoring weapons we have.”
Within the first 30 seconds, sophomore center Hallie Thome scored the first field goal of the game to jumpstart an early Wolverine lead, one the team would not let go for the rest of the night.
“That was cool — I didn’t even realize (I scored the first points of the season),” Thome said. “I was talking to my grandma and she thought it was the biggest deal ever.”
With 32.7 seconds left in the first quarter, Michigan called a timeout after the Raiders scored four straight points. But the Wolverines quickly recuperated and stretched their lead once again, leaving the score 21-12.
At the end of the half, the Wolverines were up, 48-27. Thome led the field with a total of 13 points, while Gondrezick and Thompson trailed with eight apiece. As a team, the Wolverines went 19-for-35 and shot 54.3 percent to Oakland’s 33.3, and those statistics didn’t change much by the end of the game.
Michigan had six players score in double digits, with Flaherty and Gondrezick made the top of the list and senior guard Siera Thompson (17), Thome (15), junior guard Jillian Dunston (10) and sophomore guard Nicole Munger (10) behind them.
At 6-foot-5, Thome was an obvious target for the Grizzlies, but Barnes Arico didn’t let her starting post player get frustrated by Oakland’s defense.
“If people are keying on you and you’re drawing so much attention to yourself that that’s opening up shots for someone else, you’re doing a great job,” Arico said. “I think that’s what happened to Thome in the second half.”
The last points that pushed the Wolverines into triple digits were score by Munger, who scored the final four points of the game.
“(Munger) is a very tough player, and for her to have those points, I know, makes her very happy,” Thome said. “She deserves it.”
Added Gondrezick: “From a team perspective, all (this game) shows is that we don’t have a problem putting the ball in the basket.”